By on June 18, 2013
Photo courtesy of mobilitysvm.com

Photo courtesy of mobilitysvm.com

Here’s a confession. I found this cool thing and I want to tell you all about it because, frankly, it is interesting and if it reaches the right person it might just change someone’s life for the better. My problem is that I don’t know how to begin an article in a way that doesn’t pull on your heartstrings or otherwise involve some bad pun that leaves me looking like a total ass. The subject is sensitive and it needs to be handled delicately, but at the same time I can’t write anything makes me feel like an overly PC tool, either. Since I am trapped, I guess I’ll just say it outright: I found this company that will convert a full size GM pickup for use with a wheelchair in such a way that it preserves the vehicle’s lines and doesn’t tell the entire world that the truck is a handicapped conversion unit. What’s more, this truck can be set up so the wheelchair bound person can be either the passenger or the driver. That’s cool, and whether or not someone in your life is confined to a wheelchair, I think you’ll want to see this too.

According to the Mobility SVM website, the design in question began life as the product of two friends, one a mechanical engineer named Go and the other a quadriplegic named Shichi. The story goes that Shichi was tired of the conversion van that he relied upon for transport and discussed is desire for a pickup truck with his friend Go. Go set to work and eventually came up with a design that would allow his friend to travel by truck. By 2009 their product, then called the GoShichi, was ready and once the design was fully tested and patented, the two set about establishing a company to do the conversion. In 2012 that company was purchased by new owners who have since worked to further improve upon and promote the design and the end result is the product you see upon these pages.

The best thing about Mobility SVM’s product is the fact that it can be mounted on a normal GM truck without extensive modifications to the vehicles roof or floor. Often, conversion vans set up for wheel chair use have lowered floors, that leaves them lacking sufficient ground clearance for rough roads or winter driving conditions. Additionally the long ramps they often employ can be made useless in certain situations where people park too close or in areas with insufficient space to unfold a long ramp. Mobility SVM’s side loading life does away with the hassle of the ramp altogether.

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I can’t even begin to imagine the daily challenges of living my life from a wheel chair but one thing I think I would miss would be the ability to blend in with everyone else. The way the Mobility SVM attaches to a truck while leaving its factory lines and ride height unmodified would greatly appeal to me. I might still be in my wheelchair, but out there on the road I would once again be just one of the guys on my way to or from wherever life takes me. I’d like that. If you, or someone important to you is confined to a wheelchair and wants more out of life than a minivan, Mobility SVM may be the right answer.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He writes for any car website that will have him and enjoys public speaking. According to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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29 Comments on “Life On Wheels: Mobility SVM...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    Wow ;

    This is great new Thomas ! .

    I know a few Handicapped folks who suffer with the usual van conversion hemmeroid thing .

    Not sure why your first paragraph was indisicive , as usual you nailed it .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      I struggled with this because my stepdad is handicapped – not that anyone would dare call him that to his face – and I started out with this whole maudlin story guaranteed to piss him off. Then I thought about writing something like “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes…” and I thought, “Damn, this is a minefield!”

      But the subject is just so cool I knew I wanted to write about it, so I decided to start it by talking about my struggle writing about it – and, hopefully, no one can accuse me of getting too far off the fine line I wanted to tread.

      As always, thanks Nate, I appreciate your remarks.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Well Thomas ;

        FWIW , I’m crippled but I don’t let it bother me too much ~ life’s a b*tch then you die .

        Might as well have some fun while you’re still here and having mobility is paramount to me so this is very nice .

        Who knows , I hope to dodge this bullet my own self but knowing this is out there and available (who’ll pay God alone knows) .

        I can’t operate a clutch anymore so it’s like this for many people , you’ve given a nice ray of sunshine into otherwise drab and wretched lives .

        KUDOS .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      Worked with a woman in Australia who had a Corolla that winched her collapsed chair onto the top of the vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        There was a woman at my former church who had a Camry that did that. But not only does it look unflattering, it messes with the vehicle’s center-of-gravity…which is why sedans are ill-suited for this purpose.

        • 0 avatar
          RobertRyan

          No it was fairly lightweight unit and it had no handling issues. Drag yes, but not handling issues.

          • 0 avatar
            FuzzyPlushroom

            The only mechanism of that type I’ve ever seen was on a 2000ish Buick LeSabre. I doubt the fellow who owned it would have even noticed any handling oddities.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        Toyota has a whole subsidiary in Japan that makes cool adaptive use stuff. I saw it in a JDM Toyota Ist brochure i bought off ebay. I think its called WelCab, or something.

  • avatar
    BigOlds

    That is a very cool design.

    I really just wanted to note the fact that the truck has Finnish plates. I am in Finland a lot for work, and I have noticed that I see a remarkable number of full sized Chevy and Ford trucks there, something I don’t see in the other EU countries I visit.

    I have always wondered about that, but my Finnish friends just sort of shrug when I ask them about it (which is a very typically Finnish response- they may be the quietest people on the planet)

  • avatar
    Summicron

    “they may be the quietest people on the planet”

    Fascinating you say that…. because the ones who’ve lived in the U.P. for 100+ years haven’t changed much.

    A reticence gene?

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    Isn’t SVM the same guys responsible for the MV-1 thing that looks like an Element? That wasn’t a bad idea but this actually seems to be even better.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Nice piece, Thomas. The point to be made, I think, is that the essence of an automobile is not hooning around, impressing your neighbors with how much money you have to spend, etc.

    The essence of it is mobility.

    So, for folks who — for one reason or another — can’t walk like the rest of us, mobility is doubly important. And these guys have done a rather elegant job of giving mobility to folks who can’t get around the way most of us are able to do.

    Good on them!

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    That’s really neat, and you did an excellent job telling us about it. In fact, this is a car that looks *cooler* than its unmodified-for-accessibility counterpart, rather than the other way around. With that trick opening, it would probably be mistaken for a “West Coast Customs” ride, and not a wheelchair-accessible truck. My only question is how well it will withstand a crash since the B-pillar no longer acts as intended.

  • avatar
    juror58

    Another fine article, Thomas. I like your style of writing, and I always enjoy your articles. I hope that when you relocate next year you will still find time to contribute.

    I, too, see no need to apologize for writing a piece about equipment designed to make handicapped persons life a bit easier, though I can understand how some people are sensitive about being handicapped. Due to a hereditary degenerative condition, I went from being able to do “anything and everything” to hobbling around with a walker in a period of about five years. In the beginning, while still using a cane, I resented the ovations of help (such as opening the door or carrying something to the table for me), though as a “normal” person I would’ve done the same. As they say though, “it’s different when it happens to you.”

    Anyways, now that I can only hobble around with a walker, I have become nearly housebound because I can’t find a vehicle that I can get in and out of by myself due to limited use of my legs. I am loath to drive a minivan and Mrs. juror58 won’t be caught dead in one. Though this particular option doesn’t suit me at this time (and hopefully never will) it’s nice to know it’s out there. (Does anybody make elevator running boards?)

  • avatar
    Slab

    At the car show, there’s always one or two cars that are converted for people with mobility issues. They usually involve some kind of mechanism that swings the seat out and down. My question has always been “After you switch seats, what happens to your wheelchair?” This looks like a much more practical solution.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    “I might still be in my wheelchair, but out there on the road I would once again be just one of (strike)the guys(/strike) those a-holes driving a giant SUV (probably solo) that no one needs on my way to or from wherever life takes me.”

    couldn’t resist.

    (html doesn’t seem to work for me anymore. I was trying use the clever and not at all dated strikethrough)

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Lol…use angle-brackets instead of parentheses for HTML tags to get the strikethrough. But I think that TTAC’s WordPress theme has been designed to disallow HTML tags in comments anyhow.

      • 0 avatar
        Detroit-Iron

        It’s the carets but then the word “strike” didn’t show up at all so the sentence really made no sense. Oh well, just trying to add the lulz.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Question: In a vehicle modified for the driver, is there some sort of temporary backup for a driver that didn’t bring his own chair? I’m thinking mechanic, parking attendant, etc..

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Perhaps there could be two-piece backseats that could slide forth to create instant driver and passenger seats. Then, behind those (former) back seats, there could be another pair of seats that were folded up against the back wall, which could be unfolded and serve as the new back seats…although I don’t know how well any of that would withstand a collision.

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      Possibly no. Damn near theft proof tho! I did notice that the end piece was speeded up. I would guess that it’s a lot slower than they’d like.

      The only other vehicle that reminds me of this was made as a one-off for one of the manufacturers. Nissan I think. Very cool and no where near a production vehicle. The really needs to be some sort of a production vehicle for the mobility impaired so that you get a well engineered, well built, relatively inexpensive solution.

    • 0 avatar
      reedrc82

      The original seat is placed on a tray with rollers for anyone to drive/ride. It just rolls onto the pan and clips in. Not much help for when you’re using valet parking, but good for everyday use.

  • avatar
    phargophil

    This is great news for those in need.

    Being a designer myself, I have to think that the amount of weight being extended to the side when operated would be greatly reduced if the double door was turned into a gullwing arrangement. The functionality of the lift would be the same as would the lines of the vehicle, just less weight to hang out the side.

    • 0 avatar
      reedrc82

      A balancing mechanism is installed to assist with the weight distribution as the lift engages. A gullwing would reduce the places this vehicle could park (garage, parking garage, standard parking spot). This vehicle only opens 36″ (no more than the standard swinging door) so it can be parked anywhere. Plus, wouldn’t a strong wind cause problems with the door? Or what if the lift mechanisms malfunctioned/broke on a gullwing? I wouldn’t want to be under that when the door breaks free.

      I’ve seen a truck like that. When the door came down it almost took out the person getting the demo.

  • avatar
    50merc

    A couple of weeks ago I saw an F-150 that had this sideways accessibility feature. Since the pickup truck is the national car of Oklahoma, I thought this would have great appeal to drivers in wheelchairs.


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